Just as the winter semester starts to ramp up with group work, midterms, assignments and essays, February brings — and not a moment too soon — reading week. With a balanced and organized approach to the week, it is a perfect time to catch up and get ahead of a demanding schedule, as well as unwind and take a little time for yourself. The following suggestions may help in making the most of your seven days.
Start with a schedule
Before reading week begins, sit down with your agenda and your class syllabuses. Check out your upcoming deadlines and take a look at your April exam schedule. Assess if there are any conflicts or particularly busy dates. Is there anything you can clear off your plate during the break? Can you start to compile and organize your exam summaries? From there, book your homework sessions on your schedule for the week. While you should strive to commit to these time periods, it may be in your best interest to book these sessions early in the week in case your plans change and you need the time to reschedule.
Make a realistic goal
If you have ever used public transportation to head home for study week, you have likely witnessed the student with the packed-to-the-brim book bag. You may be guilty of this as well. For a single week, you have decided to cart five textbooks and your computer home, only to make you completely overwhelmed and incapable of deciding what subject should be tackled first. Instead, as you have already evaluated your workload, choose one or two realistic tasks to complete. If these goals are feasible, you will likely have the energy and motivation to accomplish them. Keep in mind that, if you have opted to head home for the week, it may be unwise to assign yourself something that requires hours of research in your school’s law library.
Still searching for your summer job? This is a perfect week to set up meetings and other networking opportunities. With a wide-open schedule, you will have the flexibility to meet with legal professionals at their convenience as well as arrange for followup appointments. In-person meetings are incredibly useful to hear practical advice and gain a better understanding of law practice beyond what law school teaches.
Set goals for the rest of the semester
Did you receive some feedback from your professors last semester? Is there a common issue that keeps coming up in your papers or in your final exams? Perhaps it is time to evaluate where you may need help. Set personalized goals. Maybe you need to spend more time each week reviewing your lecture and reading notes. Maybe you need to make a visit to the law library in your school and sit down with someone to go over your writing style or refine your researching skills. Whatever it is, set some intentions and try to put in that extra dash of effort that may take your paper or exam from a B to an A.
Do not forget to exercise
Typically, when law students are at their busiest, exercise is the first item to be scratched from their daily schedule. Reading week is the perfect time to commit — or recommit — to exercise. Put your health first; take a fitness class, go for a walk, head to the weight room or organize a game of pickup basketball with your friends. You will reap the benefits of that endorphin rush and rekindle an interest in your own well-being.
Last but not least, enjoy some time off, you have earned it! Go out for a nice dinner, visit a new coffee shop that has opened in your neighbourhood, see your friends and family or simply stay home and watch a TV series you have been meaning to check out. It is important to take time for yourself and to learn how to relax. Burning out is a very real and serious issue in the legal profession. At this early stage of your legal career, training yourself to unwind and let go will only help you have a long-lasting and healthy career.